Prison Law Blog

Sara Mayeux

“The Case for Treating Drug Addicts in Prison”

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That’s the headline of this Newsweek article, which is mostly informative, although it is illustrated with some pretty inexplicable charts (“Marijuana Use vs. Perceived Risk”? risk of what?). Three key takeaways:

  • Most states don’t make methadone or buprenorphine easily available to prisoners (in half of states, they’re not available at all), although they’re both on a World Health Organization list of medications that should be available to prisoners at all times.
  • Notwithstanding stereotypes about them, many correctional officials are not opposed to drug treatment, especially given that over half of inmates have some history of drug problems and studies show treatment lowers recidivism.
  • But states are reluctant to fund in-prison treatment programs due to political and short-term cost constraints. The evidence suggests that in the long run states would actually reduce crime and save money by investing more upfront in drug treatment.

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